PRP Therapy FAQs

Apr 30, 2021Blog Post, PRP, PRP Therapy

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What are platelet rich plasma treatments?

This therapy frequently referred to as PRP, involves withdrawing some of the patient’s blood, processing it in a lab, and then injecting the platelet-rich plasma back into the patient.

Because platelet-rich plasma includes a high concentration of growth factors, the healing process at the injection site rapidly increases. This means that injuries and degenerative conditions may be alleviated, enabling the patient to return to normal daily activities.

How is platelet rich plasma made?

Platelet-rich plasma is made from the patient’s own blood. The blood is withdrawn to begin the treatment, then it is taken to the lab. It’s placed in a centrifuge where it is spun at a high rate of speed. This spinning causes the blood to separate into several layers.

One of these layers has a particularly high concentration of platelets and stem cells. These components are responsible for stimulating the healing process in the body. A technician isolates this layer, and it is placed in a syringe.

The doctor then injects the platelet-rich plasma into the patient’s injury. The entire process only requires about one-half hour to one hour to complete.

How long has PRP been around?

PRP has been in use at least since the 1970s. Back then, it was mostly used to treat wounds that were slow to heal or in surgical applications. Professional athletes began benefiting from PRP injections to help them heal from injuries.

Today, it is becoming increasingly common to use PRP therapy on musculoskeletal injuries, and the body of evidence supporting this use is growing every day. It may be used on chronic and acute injuries.

What kind of injuries does PRP treat?

The list of injuries and conditions that may be treated with PRP injections seems to grow each year. Here are a few of the situations in which PRP therapy commonly is used:

  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Injuries to ligaments
  • Tears and strains to muscles
  • Tennis elbow
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Disc issues and other spine problems
  • Pain in the knee or hip
  • Injuries to the Achilles tendon
  • Medial collateral ligament injuries
  • Lateral collateral ligament injuries
  • Chronic tendinopathies

These and other conditions all may be treated with PRP injections. Patients are encouraged to consult with a medical professional to learn whether or not their injury or other condition may be treated with PRP therapy.

Can I drive or be active immediately after treatment?

Depending upon your specific injury, you may be given a pain prescription to manage your discomfort. This medication may impair your ability to safely drive. Accordingly, we generally recommend that you have a friend or family member drive you to and from your treatment appointment.

You may be able to participate in light activities on the day of your treatment and the following days. However, we recommend that patients frequently rest and avoid becoming overtired. If certain movements are painful, it is sensible to refrain from these activities for a few days until they can be performed without discomfort.

When can I start exercising again?

Many people who undergo PRP treatments are extremely active and excited about getting back to training. Nonetheless, it is wise to refrain from working out for about the first two weeks following treatment. During this time, it is probably fine to enjoy a walk, do some laundry, and complete light household chores. Exercise sessions, training, and physical therapy can be added back into your routine once the two-week period has elapsed.

Is it OK to go back to work?

Typically, we recommend that people rest the day of the procedure and for at least one or two days after the injection. However, some people may require more or less rest time depending upon numerous factors such as the type of work they do and the severity of the injury that is being treated. Your doctor likely will be able to provide you with a realistic timeline of when you can expect to get back to work.

How many PRP treatments will I need?

In most cases, a single injection is all that is required. However, some patients with severe injuries or degeneration may require a series of three treatments. If this is required in your case, the injections will each be separated by several weeks. While there is no limit to the number of injections an individual patient may receive, the research suggests that if no significant improvement is achieved with three treatments, then it may be wise to seek a different approach.

Does PRP have side effects?

One of the reasons why doctors frequently recommend PRP injections to patients is because the risk for side effects is incredibly low. The patient is being treated with their own blood, which means that there is virtually no chance of rejection. Moreover, PRP has a natural antibacterial effect, so infection is rare. Patients do usually experience pain or soreness for a few days after the procedure, but these effects are managed by Tylenol or prescription pain medication.

Does PRP treatment affect any medications or over-the-counter remedies?

Approximately five days before PRP injections, patients are advised to cease all use of anti-inflammatory, or NSAID, medications. This includes medications that include naproxen and ibuprofen. You may still be able to take Tylenol.

Additionally, be certain to inform your physician if you take blood thinners such as Plavix, Coumadin, or even aspirin. It may be necessary to stop taking such medications no less than one week prior to your injection.

What should I do after having PRP therapy?

We recommend that our patients have someone drive them home after receiving a PRP treatment and that they refrain from using blood thinners for 24 hours. Additionally, patients are recommended to avoid anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen for six weeks.

Some patients experience irritation in the treatment area, but this is a natural part of healing. Ice may be applied to the injection site three to four times each day for about 15 minutes each time. Extra Strength Tylenol or a prescribed pain medication also may be taken.

Be certain to limit your movements for two to three days following the procedure, and avoid heavy lifting for at least one week. If your doctor has provided you with a splint, it should remain in place for about one week.

If any swelling, persistent redness, or fever develops after the procedure, it’s sensible to contact your doctor’s office to check for an infection.

How could PRP benefit me?

PRP treatments typically are highly effective because they stimulate your body’s capacity to heal itself. It is not unusual for patients to report an approximate 50-percent improvement in the six weeks after the injection as well as up to 100-percent improvement in three months.

Because of this improvement, patients may be able to avoid more aggressive, invasive, and expensive treatment options like surgery.

PRP also may be beneficial because it is an outpatient procedure that is performed in a clinic. This means that there is no need for an overnight stay in a hospital, making this a much more affordable option.

Moreover, the recovery time from a PRP injection is far shorter when compared with the healing required with a more invasive procedure, such as surgery. This means that you may be able to get back to your favorite activities much sooner than you anticipated.

What about steroid injections?

PRP generally is the preferred treatment because it stimulates healing. Steroid injections:

  • Are temporary
  • May weaken the tissue
  • Do not heal injuries
  • May be harmful

Does insurance pay for PRP therapy?

Many insurance companies consider PRP to be a relatively new and experimental therapy. Accordingly, you are unlikely to find it among the approved procedures. Fortunately, your doctor likely can offer an array of PRP treatment packages that will meet your financial needs.

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